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GRAMOPHONE (06/2013)
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DG Archiv

Code-barres / Barcode: 0028947908418 (ID316)

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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

Tenebrae’s first disc for relaunched Archiv label

As I’ve mentioned in a previous review (of Victoria’s six-voice Requiem — Signum, 7/11), Tenebrae’s fondness for a monumental sound, achieved witth a comparatively small number of singers, is part of a noticeable development of recent years. It certainly focuses the ear on dramatic shaping, especially of richly scored works. From that standpoint, their choice of Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday plays with their strengths.

The composer’s own choice of this liturgical form is, by the way, masterly, for it projects his trademark concision on to a broader canvas (because of the form’s prescribed repeats).

Victoria’s approach is more understated, the musical drama internalised, the texture more contrapuntal. It’s a shame that, beyond reflecting these obvious differences of rhetorical approach, Tenebrae haven’t done more to distinguish their interpretations of the two composers. Perhaps that’s more easily done with a smaller choir or even a group of soloists
— the latter being my own preference in such a repertory. Barring the small matter of an awkward join between response and verse in Recessit pastor noster, ensemble and recording are on a high technical level; the hope remains that the prestige associated with the Archiv label (for which this is their first disc) will stimulate them to more searching interpretations in future.

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